Why Is Congress Going After Alternative Milks?
Amid news that President Donald Trump’s campaign team had repeated contact with Russia and that a top White House aide could face discipline for her unethical behavior, some members of Congress are turning their attention to another matter entirely—milk. Thirty-two legislatures want the FDA to take a hard stance against alternative dairy products, such as soy and almond milk. But why—and why now?
The answer may be simple. Take a look at the National Milk Producers Federation’s political action committee webpage, and you’ll see that the organization has ramped up its donations in the latest election cycle, contributing $115,750 last year compared to $88,650 three years ago. The International Dairy Foods Association did the same, gifting $324,231 in 2016 and $269,072 in 2014.
A little more than a month after the election, 27 lawmakers who had received dairy funding signed a letter to the FDA, urging the agency to “exercise its legal authority to investigate and take appropriate action against” alternative milk products—also known as big milk’s biggest competitors. The legislatures imply in the letter that alternative milk products have been so successful—their sales grew 250 percent in the last five years alone—because they’re “mislabeled,” and that leads ill-informed consumers to purchase almond or soy milk, thinking it comes from a cow.
When the letter didn’t garner immediate action from the FDA, lawmakers on Jan. 12 introduced the Dairy Pride Act, a bill that would force the FDA to punish makers of alternative milk products—including yogurt and cheese—that use dairy terms on their labels.
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